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A little “Philosophy Therapy”

A little “Philosophy Therapy”

Sometimes one can find incredible value from one single passage in a book. One of those paragraphs you simply must read a couple of times. The density and weight of its content like mercury in a bottle. It may be small in size but the substance, the very nature of the content just gives it gravitas that puts it into a league of its own. Thinking about its implications can keep you intellectually occupied for weeks. Some texts deserve that intense reflection! The paragraph below written by the widely published research scholar Prof. Barry Katz on Heidegger’s ontology* had that effect on me:
“Heidegger’s ontology, then, as sketched in the broadest of strokes, postulates the essential aspects of human being: as individuals we are thrown into a world populated with others and with objects: we exist in time, lost in the factual limitations of our present circumstances or conscious of our future potentialities. This structure of being and of the awareness of it, as disclosed by the phenomenological analysis of human being, is the immutable essence of human existence: it remains fixed, unaffected by the manifold variety of its existence.”

The immense importance of the sentence at the core of this paragraph can easily escape one because of the understated and unpretentious nature of the text…” lost in the factual limitations of our present circumstances OR conscious of our future potentialities.” A universe of meaning and possibility locked up in one sentence! Awareness, acute awareness, of this choice that essentially defines our being at the core can alter the trajectory of our lives. Reflecting on the fact that so many of us choose not to work with the future potentialities, but rather dwell on and blame our “factual limitations”. The
most important reason for this, I think, is that it is easier to deny this truth than to embrace the reality that demands taking responsibility and action. From a physical and intellectual perspective, it is the easy way out. But the price we
pay in taking this low road is nothing less than betraying our potential. Selling our souls.

But there is, I believe, another reason for this. Most organisations profess to encourage its employees to grow and flourish. To fulfil their full potential. My experience is that very few people in power walk this talk. It is as if they relinquish some of their power if and when people really become intellectually liberated. How many organisations can honestly embrace a slogan like: “Grow with us, or outgrow us, but not growing is not an option”. I suspect very few.

On reflecting on the implications of the text I came to another realisation. The current collective zeitgeist, I believe, is one of being overwhelmingly lost in the factual limitations of our present circumstances. This leads to apathy, inaction, and depression, at a time we direly need activism and action. But it all starts with the courageous individual. With me and you. The immense physiological and psychological advantages of taking control of our own narrative is well documented*.

Go on, choose life and live hope!

*1. Katz, B. (1982) Herbert Marcuse & the Art of Liberation. Norfolk: Thetford Press.

*2. Siegel, D. (2010) The Mindful Therapist. New York: Norton.

Author: Jaco Boëttger

Categories: Philosophy, Potential